As a Councilmember, Corey Johnson has met with lobbyists and real estate trade officials
Mr. Petrelis, the openly gay activist-writer, filed a request under New York State’s Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, requesting copies of a portion of Corey Johnson’s 2015 calendar. In a report published by Progress Queens, Corey Johnson’s calendar was reviewed for potential conflicts of interest.
Councilmember Johnson’s partial 2015 Calendar shows several meetings with lobbyists. For example, he met with Ethan Geto on August 12 ; with Brad Gerstman of Gotham Government Relations on August 25 ; with George Arzt on September 22 ; … and with Gary LaBarbera, the political operative from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, who had been recently leading the failed negotiation efforts to renew the scandal-ridden 421-a tax abatement program that had become the subject of several political and campaign corruption scandals.
In the past, Mr. Geto’s lobbying firm has represented Forest City Ratner, developer of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and Toll Brothers, a developer, which has made at least one contribution to City Hall’s controversial nonprofit lobbying arm, the Campaign for One New York.
As reported by Progress Queens and other media outlets, Mr. Arzt has acted as a lobbyist on behalf of the controversial real estate developer Extell Development Company. Extell pushed to create “poor doors” to be used by affordable housing tenants within its luxury apartment buildings, and Extell has been the target of probes by the now-defunct Moreland Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with controversial property tax breaks the company received for its $2 billion luxury condominium tower in Midtown Manhattan, One57.
Corey Johnson’s approach to land use and housing policies were shaped by his loyalties to private real estate interests.